Georgia election officials on Wednesday said they were blindsided by White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’s surprise visit a day earlier to Cobb County, where an audit of mail-in ballots was taking place.
Meadows purportedly gave election officials a five-minute warning that he would be showing up to the audit site with Secret Service in tow.
Meadows arrived at the Cobb County Civic Center, where investigators from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the secretary of state’s office were reviewing absentee ballot envelopes to verify whether voter signatures matched those on file.
Meadows was allowed to go to any place that was “public” but was denied access to the room where investigators were examining ballot envelopes.
“I’m not making any allegations as much as I am trying to get to the truth,” Meadows, President Trump’s closest ally, was overheard saying on Tuesday.
Trump has repeatedly claimed he would have won Georgia if there hadn’t been widespread voter and election fraud. He has criticized Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for not stepping in or doing more to overturn the election results.
Despite Trump’s claims, there has been no widespread proof of fraud in the state that would have flipped the election in Trump’s favor, Raffensperger said.
Meadows’s unannounced visit was brought up during a virtual Georgia House Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday morning.
At the hearing, Raffensperger, election manager Gabriel Sterling, and Ryan Germany, general counsel for the secretary of state’s office, also addressed a lengthy list of complaints and incorrect information that had been spread by the Trump campaign, the president’s lawyers, and his allies over the integrity of Georgia’s election system.
“The vast majority of claims we have seen online and in the media and even discussed in the halls of the Capitol are simply unfounded,” Raffensperger said, referring to it as a “tsunami of disinformation.” “It is dangerous, and worse yet, we have to respond to the disinformation and misinformation and chase it down with the limited resources we have. I’ve called it the rumor whack-a-mole. As soon as we knock one down, then another pops up.”
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